Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Closer Look: The Goose American Bistro & Bar (Darien, CT)

It feels like home. A simple enough sentiment, yet the emotions behind it can be as deep rooted as recalling a childhood memory that brings a smile to ones’ face. Your name is not Norm, but you still get that Cheers sort of feeling whenever you walk in the door. When you can say this, you have found your personal nirvana. Not every restaurant is designed to elicit such emotions. At The Goose American Bistro & Bar, I felt as if I were among friends.

At just nine months old, The Goose is making its mark on the Darien landscape. This recent incarnation of the former Black Goose Grill has a new look featuring beautifully dark walnut wood throughout, a staff that focuses on customer service and satisfaction (and hits the mark!) and a menu that boasts the magnificent creations of Chef Piergiorgio Nanni. This is not your ordinary neighborhood bistro.

The menu at The Goose is superb in its duality: simple, unfussy fare infused with great flavors—like the Crab & Corn Chowder with Applewood Smoked Bacon—and more elaborate dishes to tempt the palate—such as the Veal Shank Osso Buco.

I had the honor of sitting in on a special tasting menu prepared by Chef Nanni, which gave all in attendance a splendid opportunity to experience a myriad of dishes. The cozy fireplace in the barroom took the chill out of the air while we sampled hors d’oeuvres like Lobster Bisque, Maryland Style Crab Cake, and a magnificent scaled down version of the Caesar Salad in Petite Frico Cup, all a prelude of what was to come.

One usually doesn’t fawn over a salad; however, the Roasted Beet & Rocket Salad with goat cheese fritters with passion fruit vinaigrette is definitely one to hold dear to the heart. A simple salad with only a few ingredients that came together beautifully. The real hit on the plate was the crunchy-on-the-outside fritters filled with a creamy, biting goat cheese.

Another tantalizing dish was the Crispy Point Judith Calamari. Calamari can be had on practically every bar menu, but the peppadew aioli is a complementary and harmonizing dipping sauce. Rounding out the family-style starters was the Baby Arugula, Endive & Radicchio Salad, tender Pistachio Crusted Yellow Fin Tuna and juicy Grilled Baby Lamb Chop.

The main course for the evening consisted of Fresh Farmer Ricotta Gnocchi with caramelized eggplant, fresh herbs and tomato sauce topped with feta cheese ‘snow,’ a decadent serving of Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops with black Beluga lentils, grilled asparagus and a ‘swangy’ (sweet-tangy) pomegranate drizzle, and Filet Mignon Diane served alongside a spinach and pecorino stuffed tomato with horseradish whipped potatoes. Not a bad apple in the luscious bunch.

The menu at The Goose offers something for everyone, not just from a culinary standpoint but also in the ambience. Go for the slap-on-the-back neighborhood feel in the bar, warm up by the fireplace, or for a more reserved evening there’s the richly appointed dining room. Whatever your pleasure, The Goose is a welcoming respite from the day.

Open seven days a week, Sunday and Monday till 9:30, Tuesday through Thursday till 10, Friday and Saturday till 11. Soups & salads $7-$11, small plates $7-$28, grilled flatbread pizzas $10-12, burgers and sandwiches $11-$14, sides $5 and entrées $16-$28.

The Goose American Bistro & Bar
972 Boston Post Road
Darien, CT 06820

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